Barbe's Cecchini Named 'Mr. Baseball'

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - Gavin Cecchini ended his high school baseball career in style, leading Barbe High School to the Class 5A state championship after overcoming a rough start as a freshman second baseman.

Cecchini was voted Farm Bureau/Mr. Baseball by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association after hitting .413 with seven home runs, 32 RBI and 31 stolen bases while playing shortstop for the state champion Bucs.

The start of Cecchini's career did not go as planned. After earning a starting spot as a freshman, Cecchini had a prolonged slump and was benched by Barbe head coach Glenn Cecchini, his father.

Gavin Cecchini said he learned an important lesson from the incident.

"I had never failed before," he said. "At one point, I did not get a hit for like 20 at-bats. I let one game where I went 0-for-3 affect the next game, then the next game. My dad benched me and let me sit back and realize for a while that it is just a game. You have to flush the bad things that happen and focus only on what you can control. All I can control is playing hard every pitch. If I do that, everything else will take care of itself."

Cecchini earned his starting spot back later that season and helped Barbe reach the state tournament each of his four seasons.

This season, the Bucs finally captured the championship, which Cecchini said was the primary goal for his senior season.

"My first goal was to win a state championship, I had never won one with my dad," Gavin said. "That was the main goal. Other than that, I had accomplished everything that I wanted to. I had been all-district, been all-state, made Team USA and was projected to be a first-round pick. The championship was the only thing I didn't have. It finally came true. It couldn't end any better, going out with a state championship your senior year. Not many people can say they won a championship as father and son. It felt awesome holding that trophy."

Cecchini said unity was the primary factor in the team's success.

"We were all unified, we all had each other's back," Cecchini explained. "The past couple of years, we did not always hang out together, we were not as unified as this team. We peaked at the right time and went out and won it. We did Bible studies before every game as a team, something we had never done. We worked harder than any team in the state, had the best coaches in the state and the best facilities. It doesn't get any better than that."

Individually, Cecchini had to overcome an injury that cost him to miss the few two weeks of the season.

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